[Thursday] Evening session
At 7½ o'clock the proceedings of the Evening Session commenced. The audience numbered over 3,000. The Amphions opened the exercises by one of their simple and pleasing Temperance Songs.
The CHAIR first introduced,
Rev. THOMAS GOLDSMITH, of Canada West. He said:
The manner in which he had been introduced would preclude the necessity of apology. He was but a rustic from Canada, and he could not be expected to utter flowers of rhetoric. He should rather attend to the securing of the foundation, than to rise high, until the foundation had been well laid. He should not point to degraded humanity, blighted hopes, everywhere before our gaze, though this might have a tendency to awaken attention; and this for the reason that immediate suffering, in all cases, does not demonstrate an evil as a direct cause of that suffering. Medicine may be nauseous, but its effect may be desirable. When pain is actually inflicted upon a person in mental and physical health, it must arise from an almost irremediable evil. The injury resulting from the traffic in intoxicating beverages, may not be considered conclusive as to the necessity of prohibiting the sale of those beverages. We must fall back upon a right. If the question be, Has a man a right to get drunk? we are compelled to answer that he has, as we consider, by the standard of custom. But if he ask if it is right, we must answer that it is not. There is no grand test to which we can submit questions of morality or immorality. The heathen mother considers it legally right to cast her infant into the river; the heathen to cast himself under the car of Juggernaut. We cannot say that it is illegal; but is it morally right? So with the Temperance movement. Is it morally right for the drunkard to debase himself and to injure his family? The speaker proceeded to discuss this point at length.
He referred, for statistics, to Canada. While they had a Queen upon the throne of England, there was little fear of any neglect of the rights of woman. This much was by way of parenthesis, he added. He returned to the discussion of law. He had a downright objection to the use of the term "use" itself. He adduced medical testimony to show that a man would die as soon, or sooner, on alcohol alone, as upon cold water only, deprived of food.
Horace Greeley here entered the hall. The people, his admirers, began to cheer.
The speaker, pausing, made a conge to his audience, remarking that the cheer was one that he did not often get! [Laughter.]
He added some remarks on the statistical results of rum investigations in Canada, showing that alcohol occasions an indefinite amount of pauperism, lunacy, and crime. He begged "the pardon of the congregation" for consuming so much of their time, and would take his seat.
The Chairman next introduced, as a good friend of the cause,
Mr. Phineas T. Barnum--He said:
I met a friend, who informed me that there were a great many "isms" up here, and there were two classes of people present who had no right to be here. He wished to test this. In the first place, this was a World's Convention, and if there were any here who were not in the world they ought to be kicked out. [Laughter.] And he wished every lady and gentleman who could lay their hand upon their heart and say they had never suffered from the effects of Intemperance, either in person or in the actions of others, their friends--if there were any such, he wanted them to rise up and he would have their portraits. He did not believe that there was any man, woman, or child in the universe who could honestly say they had never suffered in any way from the effect of Intemperance. I don't want every body here to-night to think and speak as I do. I should not like to be responsible for all the beliefs in this room, and I don't think there are many here who would take all my beliefs. I don't believe they would like to be called a show-man and humbug, as I am. (Laughter and applause.) And I wouldn't like to have them do it, for I don't want such opposition to my trade. (Laughter.) Now, he would like to know who was going to object to anybody speaking there against this great evil, which does so much injury to all. It was no objection to say that one person spoke on one thing, and another on other things not connected with it; for no matter what else they might talk of elsewhere, there they could all unite on the one platform and speak against an evil which has this peculiarity above all other evils-- namely, that it afflicts all the world, including even the women and children. And why, then, should not the women, against whom this evil operates perhaps most injuriously of all, meet to protest against it? But laying
[p. 31]aside all social views of the question, and taking it in a merely pecuniary light, what are the expenses of rum? All statistics prove that in value we pay $150,000,000 yearly, and swallow the worth of our Union once in thirty years! This sum put to interest for thirty years will amount to a sufficient fund to purchase every acre of land, and every cent's worth of personal property in the United States of America! This debt we all incur in the misery of our land, and we have equally a right to raise our voice against it. Nine-tenths of all the crime and pauperism that afflict this country are attributable to rum-drinking. What our fathers took arms to fight against, he said, was taxation without representation. Now he, on the same principle, begged to protest against the paying the taxes incurred by drunkards, because they have no representation in the drunkard's rank. (Cheers.) All alcoholic drinks are poisonous to the stomach, from common rum to the more euphonious names of mint-juleps and gin-cocktails. (Applause.) Dr. Trail, in an essay published by him, tells us that there is not the slightest element of nutriment in alcohol. First, it operates as a nervine; next, as a stimulant; and thirdly, as a narcotic. The first property, that of a nervine; was but mild, it was only such as that common beverage in which ladies not a little indulge-tea. Now at first, tea tea acts as a nervine, and the effect is easily seen if you go to a tea-party, where, if a man gets a peep while the ladies are indulging in their mild potation, he will find them so talkative and garrulous that the will be inclined to form the opinion that the same ship that brought the Chinese tea, also brought the Chinese language with it. (Laughter.) Tea-parties are women sprees. (Laughter.) Now, so it is with the alcoholic drinks. The first effect of them is to act as a nervine. Meet men when they have taken a little, and they will be the warmest friends with you,--they will agree with you in whatever you say; but let them take two or three glasses more, and then their temper is changed. Then they will fight somebody or something; and hence the brawls, the riots, and the murders. The Chief of Police in this city, within the last year, has said that every ninety-nine cases out of a hundred of assault and battery which have taken place in this city, have been the immediate effect of rum. Out of the thirty-six cases of murder committed in the United States, thirty-one of the murderers have said that rum brought them to the gallows. The first effect of the rum, then, is as a nervine, next, as a stimulant, and next, as a narcotic. The speaker here related an anecdote of a scene which he saw to occur on board of a steamboat on the Mississippi in illustration of the different effects of alcohol as a stimulant and narcotic, and which created a good deal of laughter. Any drug that contains either of these evils is an enemy to the welfare of mankind. He should ask, then, why was it that they were going to continue this evil inn the land? Where is the man that ever found himself benefitted in health or wealth by drinking rum? He would give a higher price for the man who could honestly say that be ever made a cent or ever felt himself better in health by being a drunkard, than for any curiosity he ever purchased. Everybody sees that drunkards are a gross curse and a heavy tax on the temperate, because they are not able to support themselves, and, of course, the temperate
[p. 32]must support them. For a long time they have been making regulations upon regulations regarding rum, until they were tired, and began to despair of any good arising from this legislation. But now they have got the serpent by the neck, and they can crush him without danger of their heel; and why will they not do it? [Here the speaker repeated an anecdote of Ami Hubble,--or the joke of the man who forgot his name, and soliloquizing, said, "Am I Ami, or am I not ami? If I am not Ami, who the deuce am I?] (Applause.) The liquor traffic is a tornado, and the only remedy for it is its annihilation. The only way to do this is to destroy the trade. Look at the report in Maine. Neil Dow says, that within the three months after the passage of the Maine Liquor law, the almshouse and jail of his county were empty. I lately had a letter from Burlington, Vermont, which informed me that there was not a single prisoner in the city jail--the first time such a thing was known since its erection. People say the Maine Liquor law is arbitrary and curtails men's privileges. It is not so. Have we not laws more arbitrary already? A man told me the other day he was going for no law which prevented him from eating and wearing what he pleased. I told him to go home then, and put on your wife's petticoats, and walk down Broadway, and see if there is not a law against your wearing what you please. Oh! I never thought of that. Talk of privileges, why you can't drive down Broadway without restrictions. You say you have a right to drive where you choose in the public street; but the law compels you to turn only to the right. Is not this arbitrary? A man arrives at the quarantine, and hears his wife is lying at the point of death;--although he is an American citizen, and has a right to go where he chooses, yet the law compels him to remain at the quarantine a certain time whether he will or not. We are not politicians, except for the advancement of the Maine Law. I would sooner vote for the devil than vote for a Whig, yet I would sooner vote for a sober Whig than a drunken Democrat. Go only for the Maine Law, you deserve it, and act properly, and you will obtain your deserts. (Applause.)
The Chairman then said:
Our friend Mr. Barnum has shown us the comic folly of the drunkard's career, and also the tragedy which always lies behind that comedy. But there is another side which is all tragedy; and I shall call on Lucy Stone to describe the lot of the wife and the children of the drunkard.
Miss Lucy Stone then presented herself, and, when the plaudits which greeted her had subsided, said:
It is so very difficult to make a sudden transition of feeling from the gay to the grave, or from the grave to the gay, that I feel after the treat we have had from our friend, (Barnum,) that you may not find so tasteful the sober topics which I intend to speak upon; but after all, as was said by the President,
[p. 33]the subject presents so sad--sad a picture, that I cannot help expressing the thoughts I have formed in regard to it. I could not help thinking when my friend Barnum was speaking of the drunkard, with his heavily-uttered work, and his miserable ruin of himself, that while we would laugh at the picture made before our eyes, yet should the man have been our brother, our father, or our son, we should feel the deepest pity and the deepest grief; and while he made a mockery of his own nature, we might feel for him a stronger love. God and the angels would drop tears over it, and we that are bound--bound to him--bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, would fain drop a tear too. We are met here as a Whole World's Temperance Convention, having a great mission to fulfill--to see if we can forward this cause, which surely needs so many helpers; for it is true that idiocy, lunacy, murder, and crime, of whatsoever character, is spread over this broad Republic; and to blot out this curse becomes us more than all in this Convention. It becomes us to blend our words, our thoughts, and our feelings together, to join hands with each other in making ourselves sufficiently strong, if possible, to root out from our land all vestiges of the use of the intoxicating cup. Our country has been laboring under this evil for a long time. In this great work we have thus far found many helps. I remember back many years, and have known earnest men and women who have been from time to time engaged in the work. There were little talkings at first, little plans devised, but the devil would not come out by such kind of effort. In vain were their efforts made for the mark of the beast was seen, and men and women impelled by the danger, rose up together and in a general effort to rid the community of the curse of intoxicating drinks. They tried to legislate it out of use. The fifteen gallon law, and the twenty-eight gallon law, and one and another similar efforts of legislative action failed; men, women, and children went to work to cope with the destroyer. They went still farther. The mother, seated by her fireside, took the little boy and taught him Temperance song, which were sung in the Cold Water Armies, with their beautiful banners; and they went up and down the streets singing their beautiful Cold Water songs; and the young men and young women formed Total Abstinence Societies--the women pledging themselves not to marry the man who might be in the habit of using intoxicating drinks, and the men knowing that it was dangerous to wed the women who did. Old men and women were cheered by the encouragement which they received from the progress of the cause, and the middle-aged joined heartily in the glorious rejoicing, till finally it was a stigma upon the character of an individual to indulge in intoxicating liquor, and those who did drink labelled the jug with some other name, and it became a common expression that those who drank did it behind the doors, and disguised their breaths by sugar-plums or peppermints that nobody should detect them. With success, the efforts of the people relaxed, and men resumed their cups; then came the new effort--the Maine Liquor Law--and in it we have a sign of a healthy public sentiment, and there is a falling off in the use of intoxicating drinks. We are all glad of it.
I will now ask leave of this Convention, (whether it will please them or not
[p. 34]I do not know), but I only desire to propose some thoughts in which I can hope for the co-operation of the son and daughters of Temperance, old and young, that we may hedge in still more closely the bounds which lead to the drunkard's grave and to which so many of our noblest young men are madly rushing. We scarcely pass over a railroad, in a steamboat, or over the highway on a state coach but that we detect their ruinous habits by their breath. And the habit is not confined to man, for by a statement made by the President this morning, I learn that there are fifty thousand women in this fair country who drink. To remedy the evil of domestic suffering arising out of intemperance, I propose that we shall create a public sentiment which shall make it utterly impossible for any man or woman who is a drunkard, ever to sustain any marriage or parental relation. God has planted deeply in the human soul a love of those social ties that bind us to life. We are happier and better for the ties of parent and child, brother and sister, husband and wife, and God has written all this in the human soul. Now, I would say to the man who goes to the wine cup, or where temptation of any kind should come to induce him to taste it, and from tasting it to learn so as to love it, and, by loving it, to throw away manhood, and all that is noble in life, for the pleasure of the wine cup,--I would say to this man take it, and you alone shall incur the odium that attaches to the drunkard, and never know the relation of husband or of father. Drink the intoxicating cup, and you poison your whole being, and enfeeble your mind, and as a drunken man or woman, you shall not be entitled to the marriage relation. And I would say to the man or woman who is a drunkard, and who has a husband or wife, you shall forfeit the marriage relation that others should not have their prospects in life blighted by the acts of the drunkard. Public sentiment should say that the wife, the husband, or the child, whose nearest interests were affected by the intemperance of either, should be allowed to separate from the one who caused the misery. Is it possible that a woman who in her early years gave her heart with all its wealth and her young love to one whom she deemed a worthy object of it--is it possible, I say, that her love will cling to the ruined wreck with the elements of character which had excited her love all destroyed? Those traits of character which once commended her whole love are now all gone, and she herself is reduced to the level of the drunkard's wife. It is wicked that she should be compelled to live with the father of a drunkard's children, and remain that loneliest of all beings, a drunkard's wife. Why should a man or woman be false to him or herself? A law or usage which shall make the ruin of either on this account is false to humanity. If a drunkard seats himself by the fireside of an injured wife, and she is forced thereby to hear her children call him father, I say it is due to her that she shall not be compelled to bear the curse. There is not a father or mother here present who would not rather their child should die than be united to a drunkard, their hearts and arms would be open to receive her, and when the drunkard or the man who is tempted to be a drunkard, knows that the wife of his love can be no longer his, if he does not reform, and when he knows that if he indulges he must forever forego the enjoyment of social life, he will lay down the tempting cup, and
[p. 35]pause before he commits the crime. He will think before he passes that threshold. Look at the spectacle of the young man, too, who gathers to his heart of hearts the woman of his choice, with all the wealth of her love, but at the fashionable party where the wine cup is passed about she learns the vice. The breath which once came softly on his cheeks is polluted with drunkenness, and she becomes bloated and hideous in her person. I know that I do not appeal in vain to the heart of manhood, when I urge them by some such plan as this, to erect around Woman a barrier, that shall be long, and strong and high. No, my friends nothing in the way of temporizing will ever overthrow the monster of intemperance. I urge the adoption of some such plan as I have proposed, not only for the sake of the drunkard but also for the drunkard's wife and the drunkard's child. I tell you that the child which is born of drunken parents is born a drunkard. The cureless appetite is in him, and the lovely boy which should have come superb from the hands of God, comes with a curse in his bones and a thirst for rum, and be goes down to a drunkard's grave, because of the hateful stain that was implanted in him by the fact of his having had a drunken father or mother. The man or woman who would take your child from this platform, and make him or her a drunkard for life, would receive your's and the world's curse. The man who would take him, and like some monster, by the aid of sorcery or some such thing, vaccinate him with the thirst for drink, so that he would rush from this platform, crying, "Give me rum--give me rum," would commit a crime which blackens even beside that of murder. You tell me of Norwalk catastrophes and railroad disasters, but the ravages occasioned by drink exceed them tenfold in horror. Let there be made, then, a public sentiment that it is a crime for any person addicted to the use of intoxicating drinks, to assume the relations of parents, or husbands and wives, by a law that knows no exception. If the father be a drunkard or if the mother be a drunkard, the child must have the nature of a drunkard. Every child that is born has a right to a healthy constitution and vigorous frame. It has a right to come here, and its soul should be preserved, ready to go back again to God without "spot, wrinkle or any such thing."
If such a sentiment as this can be created in the minds of the people, the prospect of having bonds separated, as the result of intemperance, would be a check against the acquirement of such habits. If a person determines to become a drinker, let it be understood that the indulgence in the wine cup is the justification for annulling the ties between husband and wife; this would tend to make both men and women beware in choosing their moral path. I urge this not only for the sake of the drunkard, but for the sake of the drunkard's children, for I tell you that drunken parents become the parents of drunkards. The child of the drunkard goes along in the world, marking the way in his hateful train, and when he arrives at a sufficient age, the same appetites that were common with the parent become the appetites of the child.
I know I touch upon delicate ground, but my only excuse must be the imperative necessity. I know that, on this question, texts and statutes will be quoted against us, and that usage too will be brought to bear against us, but
[p. 36]truth is stronger than either of them. It only needs to be spoken and uttered, and it will ever shine brighter in the world. If my position is true, I do not care who is against it or who is for it; God's own life is in it--that life which never sleeps, but will in one day come like leaven in the lump, will come without parchment, and will not come in characters that can be blotted out. [Loud applause.] I ask you fathers and you mothers, do you wish that your daughter should be bound for life to the bloated carcase of a drunkard, and her children to be the children of a drunkard? But I know when I say that to you, whatever may be text, or law, or custom, I know that stronger than all in your own soul's centre is a deep and earnest wish that no such load may ever be laid upon your children.
The speaker concluded her remarks by illustrating the fact of the little redress afforded by the Courts of this country for abuses received at the hands of a degraded and drunken husband by cases which came under her immediate observation, and at the close of her remarks she was warmly applauded.
Mr. Greeley having been loudly called for, now came forward. He made a few remarks pertinent to the address by Miss Stone.
He begged to differ in some measure from that eloquent woman on the subject of divorce. The side advocated by her was broad and apparent; but he conceived there is another side to the question that has its foundations no less deep, although, perhaps, not so obvious, and would, if as explicitly stated, appeal with equal force to the reason of the audience. [Cheers.] Mr. Greeley then passed to the more immediate objects of the Convention. He wanted to see men carrying their temperance to the ballot-box. He then briefly explained the objects of the Convention. There are several very eloquent men here from whom I hope we shall hear some time to-morrow [to-day.] Mr. Carson, the originator of the Carson League, by whose influence Intemperance was totally exterminated in several Districts is here, and I hope he will give us some information of the origin and practical working of his system. [Cheers.] There are numerous others here from whom some good ideas may be expected. He concluded by hoping that something of practical utility would result from the efforts of the Convention.
The Amphions then gave a "Temperance War Song," which was very generally applauded.
It was then resolved unanimously that this Convention hold three sessions to-morrow--at 10 A.M., 4 P.M., and 7 P.M.
The Convention, on motion, then adjourned.